In this article we will look at some statistics regarding sports supplements intake in Australia. As you may know, sports supplements are widely consumed worldwide. They are taken by athletes and the general public for a variety of perceived or expected benefits.
According to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard 2.9.4, a formulated supplementary sports foods is “a product that is specifically formulated to assist sports people in achieving specific nutritional or performance goals.” (1)
Based on the same legislation, sports supplements may contain vitamins or minerals under certain restrictions, amino acids or other compounds used as a nutritive substance also under certain restrictions. Per day, a sports supplement must not contain more than 70 mmol sodium or 95 mmol potassium (1)
The International Olympic Committee defines a supplement, in general terms, as “a food, food component, nutrient, or non-food compound that is purposefully ingested in addition to the habitually consumed diet with the aim of achieving a specific health and/or performance benefit.” Within this broad category, sports foods are defined as “products providing energy and nutrients in a more convenient form than normal foods… for targeted use around exercise (e.g., sports drinks, gels, bars).” (2)
Types of sports supplements
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) conducted a survey in 2011 to estimate the percentage of the population in Australia and New Zealand 15 years and older who consume sports supplements. The difference between a sport supplement and a food product consumed with the hope of receiving some exercise-related benefit is not always clear. Therefore, FSANZ divided the responses in the following groups (3):
- Protein, including bars, shakes and drinks
- Energy, taken to increase energy function (e.g. carbohydrate gels and bars)
- Miscellaneous, e.g. creatine, glutamine
- Rehydration (excluding electrolyte drinks)
- Meal replacement
Sports supplements intake in Australia
10.2% of surveyed people in Australia used at least one supplement in the 4 weeks before the survey. We’ll break down some of the statistics in the graphs below (source: 3). Note that you can hover over the graphs form more detail.
Intake by product type
The most popular type of supplement by far is protein products, followed by energy products. The least popular type of product was pre-workout supplements.
Intake by product type and gender
In the survey, 52.2% of supplement consumers in Australia were male and 47.8% were female. Likewise, the percentage of men was higher for most product types, except for “other”.
This analysis answers the question: why do people take supplements? Perhaps surprisingly, the most common answer was for energy.
Which product for what?
When analysed by product type, the benefits tend to make sense. For example, people reported consuming protein products to build muscle. Some responses, however, were less intuitive.
Even though this was a small survey (379 respondents in Australia) and it was conducted several years ago, it does paint an approximate picture of what the sports supplements intake looks like in the country. Most of the consumers are men. Also, most of the consumers are physically active. We will talk more about supplements in future articles.
Speaking about sports supplements, you might want to check the following product reviews:
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard 2.9.4 – Formulated supplementary sports foods Canberra: FSANZ; 2016. Available from: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017C00336.
- Maughan RJ, Burke LM, Dvorak J, Larson-Meyer DE, Peeling P, Phillips SM, et al. IOC consensus statement: dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2018;52(7):439-55.
- Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. Sports Foods Consumption in Australia and New Zealand. 2013. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Sports%20Foods%20Quant%20Report.pdf.
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